Daniel Torday: The Last Flight of Poxl West

(Fiction, 302 pp. 2015)

Elijah Goldstein loves his uncle, Poxl West, who has for fifty years portrayed himself as a RAF hero during World War II, but who may or may not have been all the things he claimed to be. Winner of the National Jewish Book Award for fiction, this coming-of-age story is a meditation on memory, aspiration, and truth.

Reading Group Guide from litlovers.com

Reading Group Guide from the Jewish Book Council

Review by Teddy Wayne, New York Times. March 13, 2015

Review by Michiko Kakutani. New York Times, March 5, 2015    

Review by Donald Weber, Jewish Book Council,

Hilary Plum interviews Daniel Torday, Kenyon Review

Terry Gross interviews Daniel Torday, NPR, March 17, 2015(31 min. audio)
 

 

Milton Steinberg: As A Driven Leaf

(Fiction, 480 pp. 1939)

This classic historical novel, written by an American rabbi, draws readers into the era of the great rabbis of the Talmud. At its center is the renegade sage Elisha ben Abuyah, whose doubts lead him to search for answers in the Greek and Roman world, with dramatic consequences.

Discussion questions:
 

Review by Joseph Epstein, The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 2, 2015

Review by Marissa Brostoff, Tablet Magazine, March 19, 2010
 

Reading:
"Milton Steinberg, American Rabbi -- Thoughts on His Centenary" by Jonathan Steinberg, Jewish Quarterly Review, Vol. 95, no. 3, Summer 2005:
 

 

Ariel Sabar: My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq

(Memoir, 325 pp. 2008)

Ariel Sabar’s father, Yona, was born in the northern Iraqi village of Zakho, a place so remote that the Kurdish Jews who lived there still spoke the ancient language of Aramaic. Ariel, a journalist who grew up in Los Angeles, investigates his father’s dedication to preserving the stories, traditions, and language of his past.

Eshkol Nevo: Homesick

Fiction, 374 p. Hebrew, 2004; English translation, 2010)

Narrated from multiple perspectives this novel follows a handful of neighbors in the town of Mevasseret, just outside Jerusalem, whose Arab inhabitants were displaced in 1948. Nevo masterfully explores the dualities of life in Israel, and delicately draws out the hope and love submerged in the hearts of its citizens. 

Review and interview by Bob Goldfarb, Jewish Book Council

Review by Julia Pascal, The Independent, February 21, 2008

Review by Akin Ajayi, The Forward, March 24, 2010

Review by David Cooper
 

 

Meir Shalev: Two She-Bears

(Fiction, 320 pp. Hebrew, 2013; English translation, 2016)

This unconventional literary thriller about two murders – one committed as an act of vengeance and the second as an act of retribution -- takes place in a small agrarian village in Israel. Spanning three generations in one family’s life, this is a tale of love, betrayal, revenge, loss, brutality and salvation. 

 

Readers Guide

Kirkus Review

Review/interview by Maya Sela, July 5, 2013, Ha'aretz

Review by Maron L. Waxman, Jewish Book Council

Review by David Cooper, NY Journal of Books,

 

 

 

 

Lynda Cohen Loigman: The Two-Family House

(Fiction, 304 p. 2016)

Two families in post-war Brooklyn are inextricably linked by blood, marriage, and a long-held secret. This debut novel is permeated with hope, happiness, heartbreak, betrayal, yearning, and disappointment.

Discussion guide from the Jewish Book Council

Kirkus Review

Review by Evie Saphire-Bernstein, Jewish Book Council

Review by Rivkah Lambert Adler, The Jerusalem Post, March 10, 2016 [requires registration]

Author's Note:

Leslie Lindsay interviews Lynda Cohen Loigman
 

 

Amy Gottlieb: The Beautiful Possible

(Fiction, 336 p. 2016)

Spanning seventy years and several continents—from a refugee’s shattered dreams in 1938 Berlin, to a discontented American couple in the 1950s, to a young woman’s life in modern-day Jerusalem—this novel follows a postwar love triangle between an American rabbi, his wife, and a German-Jewish refugee.

Kirkus review
 

Reading guide
 

Review by Evie Saphire-Bernstein, Jewish Book Council
 

Profile by Robert Miller, J Weekly, March 24, 2016
 

 

Matti Friedman: The Aleppo Codex: A True Tale of Obsession, Faith, and the Pursuit of an Ancient Bible

(Nonfiction, 320 pp. 2012)

The 10th century Aleppo Codex, named for the Syrian city in which it was kept, is considered the most accurate manuscript of the Hebrew Bible. However, a large portion of it went missing in the mid-20th century. Investigative journalist Friedman's account of the document's strange path over time feels like a detective thriller, with equal parts history and mystery, conspiracy and convolutions.

Review by Paul Sanders for Academia.edu

 

Ruth Calderon: A Bride for One Night: Talmud Tales

(Midrash, 184 pp. Hebrew, 2001; English translation, 2014)

Knesset member, scholar, and teacher Calderon offers a passionate reading and literary retelling of seventeen passages from rabbinic literature, with a particular emphasis on restoring the voice of women. Each chapter begins with the actual Talmudic text, followed by Calderon's imaginative expansion and reflections. 

Review by Daniel Rosenberg in H-Net

 

Geraldine Brooks: People of the Book

(Fiction, 372 pp. 2008)

One of the earliest Jewish religious volumes to be illuminated with images, the Sarajevo Haggadah survived centuries of purges and wars thanks to people of all faiths who risked their lives to safeguard it. Brooks has turned the intriguing but sparely detailed history of this precious volume into an emotionally rich fictionalization that retraces its turbulent journey.

Discussion questions from Penguin

Kirkus Review

Review by Lisa Fugard, New York Times, January 20, 2008

Review by Ursula K. LeGuin, The Guardian, January 19, 2008

Review by Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post, January 3, 2008

Review by Carrie Brown, Boston Globe, January 13, 2008

Author bio from litlovers

Reading (41 min. video)
 

 

Chanan Tigay: The Lost Book of Moses: The Hunt for the World's Oldest Bible

(Nonfiction, 368 pp. 2016) 

In 1883, Moses Wilhelm Shapira—archaeological treasure hunter, inveterate social climber, and denizen of Jerusalem's bustling marketplace—arrived unannounced in London claiming to have discovered the world's oldest Bible scroll. Tigay, an award-winning journalist, follows every lead, no matter how unlikely, in his attempts to find the treasure and solve the riddle of the brilliant, doomed antiquities dealer accused of forging it.

tigay.jpg

Kirkus Review

Review by David Holahan, Christian Science Monitor, April 22, 2016

Review by Julia M. Klein, The Forward, April 24, 2016

Profile by Lyn Davidson, J Weekly, April 7, 2016

Interview, JCCSF

"Shapiro & I" trailer for Yoram Sabo's documentary film (2 min.) 

 

Michael Chabon: Moonglow

(Fiction, 430 pp. 2016)

Masked as a memoir, Chabon’s playful novel unfolds as the final confession of the narrator’s grandfather, whose tongue has been loosened by painkillers and whose memory has been by stirred by the imminence of death. It reflects on the difficulties of love and family, the shining aspirations and demonic underpinnings of American space program, and the importance of stories told and untold.

For resources, go to the One Bay One Book resources page.

 

Geraldine Brooks: The Secret Chord

(Fiction, 316 p. 2015)

This inventive reimagination of one of literature’s most iconic and enigmatic figures renowned in history and legend, goes beyond the myth to bring David the man to life in Second Iron Age Israel. Brooks traces the arc of his journey from obscurity to fame, from shepherd to soldier, from hero to traitor, from beloved king to murderous despot and into his remorseful and diminished dotage.

Discussion questions (Penguin Books)

Kirkus Review

Review by Alice Hoffman, Washington Post, September 28, 2015

Review by Alana Newhouse, New York Times, October 22, 2015

Review by Meredith Jaffe, Guardian, October 7, 2015

Random House interviews Geraldine Brooks

Rachel Martin interviews Geraldine Brooks, NPR, October 14, 2015 (7 min. audio)

Maryville Talks Books: Geraldine Brooks (21 min. video)

 

Ayelet Tsabari : The Best Place on Earth: Stories

(Short Stories, 272 pp. 2016)

These eleven stories, set between Israel and Canada, feature mothers and children, soldiers and bohemians, lovers and best friends, all searching for their place in the world. Tsabari's Mizrahi characters grapple with love, violence, faith, the slipperiness of identity, and the challenges of balancing old traditions with modern times.

Kirkus Review

Review by Lorraine Adams, New York Times, March 25, 2016

Review by Nat Bernstein, Jewish Book Council

Beth Carswell interviews Ayelet Tsabari, AbeBooks

Ayelet Tsabari's Sami Rohr award 2015 speech (6 min. video)

 

Etgar Keret: Seven Good Years

(Memoir, 292 pp. Hebrew, 2015; English translation 2015)

The seven years between the birth of his son in the midst of a terrorist attack and the death of his father from cancer are the ostensible subject of Keret's first nonfiction book published in America.  The short vignettes and ruminations are filled with wonder and life and love, poignant insights, and characteristically dark humor.

Review by Adam Wilson, New York Times, July 2, 2015

Review by Rachel Cooke, The Guardian, July 19, 2015

Review by Becca Kantor, Jewish Book Council

Becca Kantor interviews Etgar Keret, Jewish Book Council

Yanai Yechiel interviews Etgar Keret, Newsweek, August 1, 2015

Ramona Koval interviews Etgar Keret (57 min. video)
 

 

Paul Goldberg: The Yid

(Fiction, 320 pp. 2016)

With elements of Shakespeare and Yiddish theater, a rag-tag group decides to assassinate Stalin just before the 1953 Soviet pogroms are to begin. This satirical mad-cap adventure tale effectively blends historical events, family stories and ingenious imagination.

Reading guide

Kirkus review

Review by Jane Ciabattari, NPR, March 3, 2016

Review by Janet Maslin, New York Times, January 21, 2016

Review by Glen David Gold, Washington Post, January 25, 2016

Review by Gary Katz, Jewish Book Council

Leonard Lopate interviews Paul Goldberg, WNYC, (audio, 15 min.)

"Claiming the Yid: Why I Gave My Novel Such an Offensive Title" by Paul Goldberg, Slate, January 25, 2016

About Paul Goldberg
 

 

Lev Golinkin: A Backpack, A Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka

(Memoir, 320 pp. 2014)

In the twilight of the Cold War, nine-year old Lev Golinkin and his family cross the Soviet border with only ten suitcases, $600, and the vague promise of help awaiting in Vienna. Years later, Golinkin, now an American adult, sets out to retrace his family's long trek, locate the strangers who fought for his freedom, and in the process, gain a future by understanding his past.

backpack.jpg

Kirkus Review

Review by William Grimes, New York Times, November 23, 2014

Review, Jewish Book Council

Review by Gal Beckerman, Wall Street Journal, December 18, 2014

Review by Joshua Dill, Commonweal, March 26, 2015

Review by Elizabeth Kiem. Post-Gazette, November 23, 2014

Video: Lev Golinkin speaks, HIAS headquarters, New York City, December 22, 2014 (45 min.)